Since we all immersed into the COVID – 19 hell, it became more complicated to travel as we used to it. Some popular destinations still under restrictions, some closed at all, but fellow travelers don’t want to give up their lifestyle.
Therefore, they have to seek for another opportunities and places to spend their holidays. Now the trend “Travels near me” is growing in its popularity. Sometimes in race for a popular destinations people forget about the marvelous places close to their homes or even didn’t visit them at all.
Thanks to restrictions, we got now the chance to explore wonderful spots near our homes. So did I a few days ago. I live in St. Petersburg and decided to visit the gorgeous Baltic coast in Kaliningrad region, which is the former Königsberg.
Kaliningrad region is the small isolated part of Russia situated on the Baltic coast between Poland and Lithuania. This place is known as a famous Amber region and a spot for many resorts scattered along the Baltic coast.
These resorts include Svetlogorsk, Zelenogradsk, Yantarniy Village and Baltiysk. They are all famous for its long white sand beaches almost like on Maldives resorts, pine forests and a nice German architecture still remaining from the past.
The most famous part of this region is the Curonian spit, which is 98 km long. One part of the spit belongs to Russia and another part to Lithuania. The spit is thin, reach for sand dunes and separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic sea.
There is the National park on the spit, the Eff’s dune, and the dancing forest, which is a unique phenomenon because of the shape of trees. In certain areas like big dunes and parts of the dancing forest tourists are not allowed to hike.
Kaliningrad – the former Königsberg
This city was the first point of my destination entering the Kaliningrad region. I decided to take a plane from St.Petersburg, which is about 1,5 hour long. There are also opportunities to reach the city via bus or train through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but this time the borders there closed due to COVID -19.
Kaliningrad is a very attractive city to visit with an interesting history combining the German and Russian culture. The part of the Eastern Prussia, which is Kaliningrad region now, became a part of Russia after the second World War according to the Potsdam agreement.
There are numerous sights in Kaliningrad to visit and among them are the Königsberg Cathedral with the Emmanuel Kant grave, where you can join daily excursions and listen to the organ concert, the Amber Museum which is situated in the part of reconstructed fortification and displaying the amber artworks, King’s gate, Museum of the World Ocean and Fisher village.
The city became more known among the broad range of foreigners after the Footbal Championship -2018, which took place in Kaliningrad and in other Russian cities. For this event were built many new hotels, a huge Stadium and other nice sights.
In Kaliningrad I stayed 3 days and booked a nice private apartment on Airbnb for about 30 euros for one night. In summer it is quite complicated to book a good apartment because this region attracts many visitors going to the sea, and Kaliningrad is situated only 40 minutes away from the most sea resorts on the Baltic coast.
People who couldn’t book an affordable apartment in the resort cities usually stay in Kaliningrad, which is also very nice. You can easily rent a car and travel wherever you want. There is a good train connection between Kaliningrad, Zelenogradsk and Svetlogorsk and you can take a train every hour and a bus every 20 minutes.
Svetlogorsk was established in 1258 as a fishermen settlement and located on the coast of the Baltic sea. Now the city is a coastal resort of the federal significance. During the second World War the city avoided destruction and now It has the best preserved Prussian architecture and heritage like the Water Tower and some old Prussian houses.
The city is situated on the hills and is very green. I enjoyed walking through its narrow and cozy streets full of interesting sights such as the Model of medieval Konigsberg, Herman Brachert Museum, Nymph Statue, Organ Hall – the only private Organ Hall in Russia, which located in the former church rebuilt to its present purpose. You can listen to everyday concert at 4 and 8 pm.
There are a lot of opportunities to stay in Svetlogorsk from the luxury 5 stars Hotel such as Grand Palace Hotel situated on the embankment with the nice views on the sea to more budget options like renting a private apartment on Booking or Airbnb. For my stay I booked the Guesthouse “By the sea”, which is located 300 meters from the city center, has many cafes nearby and costed about 40 euros per night.
This is another popular resort town situated on the Baltic coast, where I spent 3 nights at the Hotel “Topaz” with the window looking at the sea:) Zelenogradsk has the best sandy beaches and very long embankment for a nice walk. Besides this, here begins the road leading to the Curonian spit.
This town was founded in 1252, even earlier than Svetlogorsk and was a fisher village as well. During the 19th century it became a resort status for the Prussian King and aristocracy, and today it is the closest beach place for Kaliningrad citizens. Before 1947 Zelenogradsk was known as Krants.
Zelenogradsk was well-preserved after the war and today you can enjoy the old architecture and many sights of the city – the Water Tower, where is situated the Cat’s Museum – Murrarium Art-Collection of Cats with the largest collection of cats images, one of my favorite thing about Zelenogradsk.
Among the other sights are Museum of Skulls and Skeletons, St. Andrew Church, Well-Room Queen Luiza – an interesting construction like a pavilion, where you can drink free mineral water, Krants Post Office, Queen Luiza Square and others. You can rent a bike or electric scooter to easily reach all destination you want to visit.
My tips for this travel
In case, you are going to visit Kaliningrad region, I can give you some tips how to arrange your trip and make it convenient. If you travel by plane, Kaliningrad will be your first point of entry. There is a bus number 244 from the airport to the city center, which runs every 40 minutes, another ways are to take a taxi or a car sharing companies like City Rent, KarKar or Lifcar. You just need to download an app, sign up and find a free car at the airport.
If you want to visit all places I described above, I recommend staying in Kaliningrad and travel from there. There are many good hotels and I can recommend two where I stayed some times ago – the Marton palace 4 star Hotel with a nice location in the center and the Hotel Keiserhoff near the Königsberg Cathedral.
The Curonian Spit is a popular place to visit and the best way to get there is renting a car, but sometimes on summer there are days that all cars are occupied. In this case, you can take a bus number 593 Kaliningrad – Morskoe (2,5 hours including all stops) and it is better to get up early, take the first bus and dedicate the whole day for this trip. You can check the bus schedule here: www.vokzal39.ru.
For you journey to Svetlogorsk or Zelenogradsk it is better to take a bus because they run more frequently – almost every 30 minutes from South and North Bus Stations. Another good option is to take a train from the South Railway Station, which is right opposite of the Bus Station. Train schedule you can check here: www.rzd.ru
I wish you a pleasant Baltic trip! 🙂
Written by Alex